Liberty XC Set to Race in Florida, NC on Friday
The Liberty men’s and women’s cross country teams will complete their final tune-ups for the ASUN Championships on Friday, splitting up between the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals and VertCross Invitational.
The Flames’ top 10 men’s and women’s runners will head to Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla., Friday morning. Liberty will square off against many nationally ranked teams in the men’s 8K garnet race (8 a.m.) and women’s 6K garnet race (8:35 a.m.) The Flames will also be represented by two runners apiece in the men’s 8K open race (9:10 a.m.) and women’s 6K open race (9:45 a.m.)
Liberty will also send a group of seven women’s runners to the Ivey M. Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, N.C., for Friday afternoon’s VertCross Invitational. The women’s 5K is set to begin at 5 p.m.
How to Follow the Flames and Lady Flames
Live results will be available for the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals, courtesy of Prime Time Timing.
Friday morning’s temperature in Tallahassee is expected to be in the low 70s under partly cloudy skies.
The Friday afternoon forecast for Kernersville calls for sunny skies and a high in the low to mid 80s.
Checking Out the Courses
Liberty will race at Apalachee Regional Park for the second time in 2021, and the Flames hope to make it three times at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships on Nov. 20.
Liberty previously competed in Tallahassee on Feb. 5, taking part in the FSU Winter Cross Country Classic. The Lady Flames’ seventh-place finish played a key role in the team’s qualification to the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships.
The course at Apalachee Regional Park typically produces much faster times than the course Liberty battled three weeks ago at the Roy Griak Invitational. In February, Calli Doan clocked a personal-best 6K time of 20:38.9 for 13th place at FSU.
Meanwhile, Liberty will compete at Ivey M. Redmond Sports Complex for the first time on Friday. The same venue will play host to the Big South Cross Country Championships in two weeks.
Scouting the Competition
Liberty will face its strongest and deepest competition of the season to date at the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals.
In the men’s race, the Flames will square off against a dozen nationally ranked opponents, headlined by No. 1 Northern Arizona, No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 5 BYU.
Three of the top five men’s teams in the Southeast Region will line up in Tallahassee, including regional No. 2 Wake Forest, No. 4 Charlotte and No. 5 Duke. The Flames are looking to break into the regional rankings for the first time this season.
From a conference perspective, Liberty will battle defending ASUN champion North Florida and conference newcomer Central Arkansas Friday morning.
The Lady Flames knocked off then No. 6 Michigan State at the Roy Griak Invitational earlier this season. On Friday, they will have the opportunity to defeat more nationally ranked squads. No. 5 Colorado and No. 10 Utah pace the 10 nationally ranked women’s squads entered in the FSU XC Invite/Pre-Nationals.
Liberty enters the meet ranked No. 5 in the Southeast Region women’s poll. Friday’s results could provide a good preview of next month’s NCAA Division I Southeast Regional Championships, as the field also features regional No. 2 North Carolina, No. 3 Kentucky, No. 6 Duke, No. 7 Wake Forest, No. 8 Elon and No. 10 Charlotte.
The Lady Flames will also match up with ASUN newcomer Central Arkansas, the back-to-back Southland Conference team champion.
At the VertCross Invitational, the Lady Flames will face a number of former Big South Conference rivals, including Campbell, Charleston Southern, host High Point, Longwood, Presbyterian and Radford.
The Liberty women’s cross country team is coming off an impressive fourth-place showing at the Roy Griak Invitational, Sept. 24 in Minneapolis, Minn. The Lady Flames defeated then No. 6 Michigan State that day, marking the highest-ranked opponent Liberty has ever topped in women’s cross country.
As a result, Liberty moved up to No. 4 in the Southeast Region the following week, marking the highest regional ranking in program history. The Lady Flames are currently listed fifth in the region and are receiving votes for the national poll.
Neither the Liberty men’s nor women’s cross country teams has ever been ranked nationally at the NCAA Division I level.
Liberty will return to the Sunshine State on Oct. 30 for the ASUN Cross Country Championships. The men’s 8K will begin at 7:40 a.m., followed by the women’s 5K at 8:15. Both races will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
The Lady Flames will attempt to defend their team title from the 2020 ASUN Cross Country Championships. Meanwhile, the Flames are seeking their inaugural ASUN crown after three straight runner-up finishes.